Reviewers Think Crysis 3 Is—Surprise—Really, Really PrettyMuch to the surprise of pretty much no one, Crysis 3 turned out to be quite the looker. But that's just what Crysis does! So what else is there to like? For some, the exciting cat-and-mouse stealth gameplay. For others, the brand new weapons you get to hunt with.

Let's take a look at what they're saying about 2013's newest bow-murder simulator.

Reviewers Think Crysis 3 Is—Surprise—Really, Really Pretty


As ever with Crytek though, the actual game just seems to be a glorified tech demo for the developer to show off how good it is at making things look really very nice, yessir. In a way it's reminiscent of professional football freestylers, like Mr Woo. Ever wonder why, with all their amazing skill, they're not dominating the actual sport? Because their aim isn't nailing the core elements of the game. It's all about, essentially, showing off. It feels the same with Crytek.

Reviewers Think Crysis 3 Is—Surprise—Really, Really Pretty


Ah, the bow. Take it as read that Crysis is a shameless Rambo simulator of almost self-parodying intensity, and the bow becomes an excellent toy. With its silent one-hit kills and its ability to be fired while you're still cloaked, it's also the key to understanding which part of the series' DNA Crysis 3 has focused on. Play Crytek's latest as a sinewy sort of stealth game—lurk in the long grass, waiting for your moment—and you'll have a lot of fun.

Reviewers Think Crysis 3 Is—Surprise—Really, Really Pretty


There are some definite high points, despite the overbearing feeling of familiarity and ease. Some of the quasi-open areas, aside from looking quite beautiful, boast optional side missions with rewarding upgrades or unique weapons. Areas covered in tall grass hide now-feral Stalker Ceph, who run through the greenery and try to hide, before closing in for sneak attacks. These moments are at least quite interesting, and manage to break up the monotony. Vehicular sections make the occasional appearance too, and include an excellent road trip sequence evocative of Half-Life 2's wonderful "Highway 17" level (though with far better buggy controls).

Reviewers Think Crysis 3 Is—Surprise—Really, Really Pretty


Crysis 3 succeeds not only as a shooter, but as a stealth game too. It's entirely possible to sneak through the game and minimize casualties, and doing so is challenging and incredibly rewarding (should you succeed). The same goes for players who prefer to quietly assassinate every enemy one-by-one. The inclusion of the bow—a silent weapon that doesn't force you to break your cloak when you use it—is a big boon to the stealth experience in Crysis 3.

Reviewers Think Crysis 3 Is—Surprise—Really, Really Pretty


But new combat features aside, the biggest reason that Crysis 3 is such a consistent joy to play is because its control system is near flawless. The fact that you can quickly augment your weapons with different sights and grips without retreating into menu screens, or the ability to quickly pull out a grenade by double-tapping the weapon-switching button; it all works wonderfully and means there's never any kind of artificial interface standing in the way of your natural instincts. Even on the PC version of the game playing with a controller almost topples the traditional mouse and keyboard: what you lose in mouse fidelity you gain in ergonomics. The exception to the rule on all platforms, however, are the handful of vehicular sections, which feature disappointingly clunky control by comparison.

Reviewers Think Crysis 3 Is—Surprise—Really, Really Pretty


Experimenting with different strategies is still enjoyable—doubly so, now that it's not nearly as easy to just pop on your invisibility and walk past half of a level—but the most memorable moments arise when the game drops you into less-conventional scenarios. In one segment, you're tasked with hunting down a jamming device hidden in a field of tall grass while you're being hunted by alien Stalkers. In another, you need to traverse a staggeringly large battlefield to take down three anti-aircraft emplacements, but the order—and whether or not you complete optional objectives to gain allied support—is entirely up to you. The big moments here are every bit as impressive as those in a tightly scripted shooter like Call of Duty, but Crysis 3 manages to pull them off without simply shuffling you past a series of cheap façades. There's real, tangible depth.

Reviewers Think Crysis 3 Is—Surprise—Really, Really Pretty


Despite this laundry list of shortcomings, Crysis 3 still contains flashes of that delightful predatory thrill that makes Crysis games so fun. But they're too infrequent, hidden within a game where fancy tech disguises conservative, uninteresting design. The more I think about and play Crysis 3, the more frustrated I become. Crysis 2 managed to get an admirable number of things right. I would have loved to see the third game build upon that foundation and close the series out with style.


How To Advertise A Video Game In A British TabloidWhen hallowed British media institution The Sun partners with a video game publisher for some advertorial, as you can imagine, the results are deftly subtle.

The pair have managed to combine detailed coverage of Crysis 3 with a tasteful recognition of the broadening demographics of the video game market. How? By putting a blonde former popstar in bodypaint. Then writing things like this.

FORMER Pussycat Doll Ashley Roberts shows she's a kitten with claws—donning full bodypaint to celebrate the launch of video game Crysis 3.

The saucy skin covering was in tribute to the game's trademark Nanosuit, a customisable set of power armour which helps the player battle through hordes of enemies.

But it's fair to say that the game's hero, Prophet, doesn't look anywhere near as good in the outfit as Ashley, with the black-and-grey paint showing off her sizzling curves.

And this:

Despite her stunning looks, the 31-year-old blonde admitted: "I might just be cuddled up with Coop. That kind of sounds sad doesn't it?"

And pushed on whether any fellas have stolen her heart since she moved to Britain, she said: "No, not yet...I've been busy, but we'll see."

If she's bored, the latest Crysis title looks like an intelligent answer to your average shooter, asking players to combine stealth with an all-guns-blazing approach to best their enemies.

She could try to kick-start her love life by asking a few fellas around for a game...

Keep it classy, The Sun. You too, EA (or whatever marketing firm repped you on this).

(A warning, if you want to read the whole thing, the images are kinda NSFW).

Puss in suit! [The Sun]


Crysis 3: The Kotaku ReviewYou're sitting behind the wheel of a finely tuned luxury automobile. The upholstery creaks as you make yourself comfortable; it smells like quality in here. You haven't even turned the key and you can feel the car humming, its tightly-coiled energy waiting to be unleashed. This car isn't designed to make you feel romantic or poetic; it's designed to make you feel powerful.

You run your fingers over the dash. Near the edge, just above the glove compartment, a piece of the dashboard flicks up under your fingers. Huh, weird, how did that happen? It must've come unglued or something. You smooth it down and look at it. There, good as new. You twist the key in the ignition.

The car roars to life! It's throaty and strong! Wait, but did you feel it hitch? Nah, couldn't have been. Smell this leather! Cars that smell like this don't hitch. But… yeah… wait. You hear something, just beneath the rumble of the engine. A high-pitched keening sound, like metal wire spinning round an un-greased spool. You put the car into gear, and it chugs. It chugs? Oh yes, there was no mistaking that: That was not supposed to happen.

You're sitting behind the wheel of a finely tuned luxury automobile. But something's wrong.

That's what it's like to play Crysis 3.


Crysis 3, which comes out today on PC, Xbox 360 and PS3, is the third (well, technically fourth) in a series of first-person action games that mix stealthy sneaking with huge explosions, all draped across lush, exquisitely rendered environments. The result has historically been something a bit smarter and more open-ended than, say, Call of Duty or Medal of Honor.

The Crysis series isn't really known for its winning personality. The games don't get by on their stories, or their characters, or their lore. They're not even really all that widely regarded for their gameplay or design. They're known, first and foremost, for their sweet, sweet tech.

The first Crysis was released exclusively on PC in 2007 and almost instantly became the high-water-mark to which all PC graphics were compared. It looked like a PC game from the future: eye-watering sunsets splashing across a shimmering ocean, tiny little frogs leaping through a carpet of jungle-undergrowth. It was the game that PC gamers could lord over their console-owning brethren. Not only was it unavailable on Xbox 360 or PS3, it was commonly held that those platforms couldn't handle the game if they tried. (The irony here is that Crysis was eventually brought to the 360, albeit as a toned-down port.)

The game's developer, the German studio Crytek, has always seemed a bit less interested in making great games and more interested in using their Cryengine technology to make great-looking games.

Crysis 3: The Kotaku Review

That said, I've always had a soft spot for the series. I like both Crysis and Crysis 2 in equal measure, though for somewhat different reasons.

In Crysis games, you play as a man in a suit. Specifically, a "nanosuit" exoskeleton that looks like SCUBA gear combined with one of those frozen human musculatures you'll see on display at Body Worlds. The suit gives a distinct advantage in combat against mere mortals, as it allows players to switch between various powerful modes on the fly. There's a stealth mode that makes you invisible like a certain dreadlocked extra-terrestrial, and an armor mode that lets you suck up bullets. There's a speed mode that lets you run super fast and jump super high. You can breathe underwater, and just in case you didn't feel enough like The Predator already, you can activate a visor that allows you to see heat signatures.

The games, then, are entirely about using your suit's powers to stalk and kill dudes. Sometimes you hunt human dudes, and sometimes you hunt alien dudes. This has traditionally been a good amount of fun, because of one crucial balancing feature of the nanosuit—it runs out of energy rather quickly, and you can't stay invisible or bullet-proof for too long before you'll have to pause and recharge. Past Crysis games have always been at their best when players are set loose in moderately open outdoor or semi-outdoor areas, pitted against a bunch of enemies. It's in these scenarios that the games, particularly Crysis 2, start to feel something like the "thinking man's brainless shooter." You'll creep and strike, creep and strike, hiding, cloaking, attacking, hiding and recharging, before pouncing again.

You are a guy named "Prophet," who is the same guy that everyone thought you were for the bulk of Crysis 2, when you were actually a guy named "Alcatraz," though at the very end of that game you actually became Prophet anyway. (I know, right?)

But every time Crysis games get away from that core routine, things become significantly less enjoyable. The back-half of the first game, which was set on a south pacific island, featured giant flying squid-enemies that were a tenth as fun to fight as the overmatched but numerous North Korean soldiers from the opening chapters. The second game, which took place in an under-attack New York City, featured aliens that were more humanoid and a lot more fun to fight, but still not quite as enjoyable as the PMC soldiers of the opening and closing acts.

Crysis 3, unfortunately, spends most of its time lost in the weeds. There's plenty of hunting, but it's sporadic, and changes made to the formula combine with dodgy AI and odd level-design to make the whole thing feel uncomfortable and ungainly.

In Crysis 3, you still wear the suit. Through some plot contrivances that don't really merit a detailed explanation, you are a guy named "Prophet," who is the same guy that everyone thought you were for the bulk of Crysis 2, when you were actually a guy named "Alcatraz," though at the very end of that game you actually somehow became Prophet anyway. (I know, right?) The story goes like this: It's twenty-some years after the events of Crysis 2, and Prophet has been frozen in stasis this whole time, kept under lock and key by a megalomaniacal megacorporation called Cell.

Prophet's old buddy Psycho, who was one of his squadmates in the first game (and was the star of the Warhead spin-off) turns up, older and fatter and conspicuously nanosuit-less, and wakes Prophet up. In the wake of the events of Crysis 2, New York has become a Cell-controlled, bio-domed jungle, loaded with wrecked, overgrown buildings. (It's lovely-looking.) There's wildlife and foliage everywhere. The aliens have been scattered to the wind, and Cell Corporation has gone full-on Lex Luthor—they're trying to take over the world. Time to show them who's boss.

Sounds fine, right? A decent action-game setup. But right from the start, something seems hinky with Crysis 3. The first level takes place at night aboard a Navy cruiser, where Psycho escorts Prophet to freedom. I found myself surprised that I was spending the opening act doing what I've come to think of as the "First-Person Shooter Follow." See here:

Crysis 3: The Kotaku Review

I'd follow Psycho to a door, wait for him to open the door, then go through and shoot some guys. Then I'd follow him some more. This kind of thing is de rigueur in a Call of Duty game, but in Crysis? At the very least, it set off some warning bells.

The whole introductory level took place at night, and I found myself fighting my way through small labs, then through bigger labs, then corridors. Nothing felt open, or empowering, or particularly fun. It certainly didn't feel like Crysis. That went on for the game's entire opening act, before the camera finally opened onto a sprawling, day-lit vista. (A screencap of this moment is a bit farther along in this review.) If you're anything like me, this is the point where you'll think, "Thank god, the actual game is starting."

Only it doesn't start. I had to follow Psycho some more, then this happened (This clip is from the Xbox 360 version of the game, wobbly foot and all. Everything else in this review is of the PC version):

After that, I was finally set loose in the urban jungle. Sweet! Oh, no, wait. I wasn't all that loose, actually, because there was a huge missile-launcher in the sky that would blow me up if I became uncloaked out of cover. So I did some tedious linear recon (no combat) for a couple minutes, and then finally, finally, I got to the first open area where there were some soldiers to fight. And… I defeated them handily, because I'd been given a futuristic bow that fires silent, instantly deadly and/or explosive-tipped arrows and I could use it without uncloaking. (More on the bow later.)

I made mincemeat of those poor goons and then moved on… but not to another outdoor combat sequence! Nope, it was time to follow Psycho again, and then head underground and fight some guys in another dark, interior area. Some aliens turned up about 20 minutes later, and it just became more of a mess from there.

Crysis 3: The Kotaku Review
WHY: Lovely graphics aside, Crysis 3 is a mostly mediocre shooter in which fancy visuals faintly disguise haphazard design and a lack of technical polish.

Crysis 3

Developer: Crytek
Platforms: PC (Reviewed), Xbox 360, PS3
Release Date: February 19

Type of game: Tactical first-person sci-fi shooter centered around a mixture of stealth and action.

What I played: Completed the single-player story in around 6-7 hours, replayed several hours' worth of levels on various difficulties. Played a couple hours of multiplayer and a couple hours of the Xbox 360 version. Replayed several chunks of Crysis 2 for comparison.

My Two Favorite Things

  • When it's pretty, it's damned pretty. In terms of razor-sharp fidelity and near-photorealistic vistas, this is easily one of the best-looking games you can currently play.
  • Multiplayer has a number of distinctive charms, particularly the fact that every player can become invisibile.

My Two Least-Favorite Things

  • The last chapter is a chore, the final boss is a mess, and the dénouement is laughable.
  • Enemy AI just can't keep up with the new, bigger environments, and humans and aliens both behave too erratically to be much fun to fight.

Made-to-Order Back-of-Box Quotes

  • "I didn't realize my PC could actually physically break a sweat."
    -Kirk Hamilton,
  • "Why would I ever use anything but this bow?"
    -Kirk Hamilton,
  • "This is it: The mediocre game that screenshots will sell."
    -Kirk Hamilton,

So that was more or less when I started thinking, hey, there might be something weird under the hood of this supposedly finely-tuned automobile.

Before I dig too much deeper into the design or the writing, let's back up and talk about the tech. That's why a lot of people play Crysis games, after all: They want to make their PC beg for mercy, they want to set their post-FX slider to "low" for the first time since buying that new graphics card. They want to play this game and think, "Yeah, but in three years, when I have a new PC, I'll play this again." Call it aspirational PC gaming. We want to taste the future, even if it gives us indigestion.

I'm running an Intel i5 2.8GHz with 8GB of RAM and a GeForce 660Ti graphics card. It may not be the hottest setup money can buy, but it's not too shabby, and it can run Crysis 2 with all the high-res-texture bells and whistles at a consistent 60 frames per second. It can also run pretty much every other PC game I have, from The Witcher 2 to heavily modded Skyrim, without a hitch.

My computer certainly choked on Crysis 3. I played a review build of the game that Crytek had put together last week, and the game's performance was erratic at best, with some combination of medium/low settings giving me solid 60fps before dipping down to 30 or 25 in certain scenes. Only by dropping every setting to "Low," turning off antialiasing, and running medium-quality textures have I been able to get a consistent 60fps at 1920x1080 resolution. And even then—sometimes it'd drop.

I've been following this NeoGAF thread with interest, as players there have been trying all manner of high-end cards and are reporting similar performance dips. Almost no one seems to be able to get the game to run at maximum settings without taking a significant framerate hit. That said, this stuff is very difficult to get nailed down—I installed Nvidia's newest drivers today, and didn't really see a noticeable improvement, despite the fact that they're optimized specifically for Crysis 3. I'm still playing with textures on "medium" and all my settings on "low." Then again, you may not care about framerate as much as I do. Responsiveness is key for me; I'd rather play an ugly game at a steady 60FPS than a pretty one at 30. And it's worth reiterating that even on low settings, Crysis 3 looks very nice.

I like the idea of a future-ready PC game. And I don't doubt that in three or four years, people will buy this game on sale just so that they can run it maxed-out on their new 8GB GPUs or whatever, just like I did with Crysis in 2010. But at the same time, I have to say that I find Crysis 3's under-performance to be a liiiittle bit of a bummer. The game isn't just demanding, it feels poorly optimized. The fact that it seems unable to maintain a consistent framerate unless I dial it all the way down and even then has dips makes me think that it's just not that well-constructed or stable. It's likely that future updates and patches will iron this out and make the game more consistent, but for the time being, it's a real bucking bronco.

On a related note, the Xbox 360 version of Crysis 3 is a big step down from its PC big brother. I played an hour or so of the 360 version just to see how it compares, and the difference is remarkable. It's still plenty okay-looking for a console game, but it doesn't move all that well. It's too busy for the Xbox's native resolution, and the jaggies and low-res textures make everything look muddy. Not only is the game lower resolution and lacking any of the DirectX 11 particle-porn the PC version so regularly smears onto your screen, the Xbox version's framerate is quite sluggish, which makes it less pleasant to play.

All that said, yes: If your interest begins and ends with extremely high-res PC gaming, Crysis 3 will slake your thirst. And a part of me enjoys that Crytek struts out and throws down this crazy game that's less an entertainment product and more a gauntlet, daring PC gamers to throw their machines against it with reckless abandon. The studio has done a marvelous job positioning itself as purveyor of a product that users don't deserve to use properly. It's hard not to admire their chutzpah. "This game is so awesome-looking that you can't even play it for another two years," they say. "But you know you're gonna buy it anyway, because you just want to see how you stack up."

In summary: It's totally playable as is, though it'd be nice if the damned thing worked a little bit better. And a further caveat on the graphics: While the game looks amazing in screenshots, it doesn't always look so hot in action, even on PC. Animations, especially facial animations, are stiff and waxy. The motion capture is odd, combat animations can be stilted, and characters regularly leave huge gaps of silence between lines of dialogue.

Crysis 3: The Kotaku Review

As an open-ended stealth/combat game, Crysis 3 falls well short of the standard so recently set by Far Cry 3. (For example: See that vista in the image above? You don't actually ever get to explore that in Crysis 3.) And as a transhumanist sci-fi adventure, it doesn't match the melodrama and romance of Halo 4 or the moral credibility of Deus Ex. But while those games' shadows stretch long over Crysis 3, the shadow that most thoroughly covers it, curiously, is that of its predecessor, Crysis 2.

I've always thought of Crysis 2 as an underrated game: it's a meaty, largely well-designed shooter that's polished, atmospheric, and gives players a ton of excellent opportunities to creatively blow shit up. It's also superior to Crysis 3 in almost every way. Crysis 2 feels like an ambitious game made by developers who were unafraid to take their time and get things right. Crysis 3 feels like it was hurried out the door, almost as though Crytek was clearing out old business before re-focusing on free-to-play games.

The differences between the two games are apparent from the very start: Crysis 2 almost immediately set you loose in open-air, outdoor environments filled with soldiers. Crysis 3 makes you follow a guy for an hour or so, putting you either in closed rooms or semi-open, darkened areas filled with enemies on high scaffolding who you can't see but who can see you. The new game is also significantly shorter and less narratively ambitious: Crysis 3 plays out over seven chapters, while Crysis 2 featured nineteen. There are smaller differences, too, like the fact that for some reason, Crysis 3 has stripped out Crysis 2's interesting and functional first-person cover mechanic.

Crysis 3 plays out over seven chapters, while Crysis 2 featured nineteen.

To make sure I wasn't imagining things, this past weekend I loaded up Crysis 2 and started dropping the needle on random single-player missions. At every turn, I found a superior game. One minute I'd be fighting aliens in a fraught showdown in the middle of Grand Central Station, the next I'd be helping marines topple a skyscraper in order to block alien mortar fire. Or, I'd be holding a room against onrushing soldiers rappelling from the skylights while simultaneously fending off an attack helicopter. Or embarking on a deeply satisfying stealth-assault on an enemy base on Roosevelt Island, a sequence that was so fun that I became engrossed and played it for the better part of an hour before remembering that I had to go back to Crysis 3.

The harder I look, the more Crysis 3's deficiencies pile up. It's a very short game, but not a particularly focused one. I played through the single-player story in around 6-7 hours, give or take, and couldn't believe the story was moving as quickly as it was. There are only three other characters in the game other than Prophet, and one of them gets about 5 minutes of total screen-time. It's only daytime for two of the game's seven chapters (And remember, by way of comparison, that Crysis 2 had nineteen chapters). The rest of the game takes place underground, in a haze, or at night.

Only one chapter—a nighttime jaunt through the flooded ruins of Chinatown—comes close to consistently capturing the type of sneaky, hunt-y encounters that were so fun in Crysis 2. It's enjoyable while it lasts, but even then feels short-lived. Before long I was behind the wheel of a tank for a stunted vehicle segment, or in the gunner's seat of an airship for a frustrating turret sequence. The game just never settles into a groove, and as a result feels hurried and off-balance.

Here's another unexpected problem: Prophet's bow is overpowered. It's basically a swiss-army-knife weapon that can double as a rocket launcher and can take down any enemy in the game. And, like I mentioned earlier, it's silent and allows you to fire while invisible. There's no need for stealth melee-kills or even silenced weapons, because you can just whip out your bow and waste anything that moves. Crysis has always relied on a careful balance between the suit's energy-timer and the enemy's superior numbers. A powerful new element like the bow throws the scales out of whack.

For an example of that imbalance, watch this a mid-to-late game encounter with an alien patrol:

First, I tag the enemies using my visor. Then, I crouch up across the roof, cloaked. I change the draw-weight to make my bow super-powerful, then I pick them off one by one. It's not just that the bow is overpowered and lets me attack while Invisible. Note, too, how the enemy AI simply doesn't really respond to the fact that their friends are dying right before their eyes.

That kind of thing happens a lot. Here's another example of three guards I came upon during a similar sneaking segment:

(Also note how the music skips right at 0:12. The music actually skipped a lot while I was playing the game. Rough edges, man. Rough edges.)

Bugs popped up throughout my playthrough, from the weird AI to numerous graphical and audio issues. I regularly saw stuff like this:

Or these guys, who froze in place and wouldn't let me get around them to pick up the gear I'd liberated, forcing me to reload a save:

Or this guard I tagged, who then somehow fell upwards into outer space:

Or this vent-cover that I'd clip right through:

Yes, these examples are all little things. Some of those bugs will likely be patched out of the game. But we're talking about a game that has been pitched as this amazing-looking godsend, a beacon of incredible future-tech. A sign of things to come. So I can't help but be disappointed that it so consistently lacks technical polish. Despite its screenshot-ready visuals, there are plenty of current-gen games that exhibit far stronger technical execution than Crysis 3, with the added benefit of actually running consistently on modern computers.

Crysis 3's level design often feels overly narrow, but a couple of times it also feels too big. It's a cop-out of me to keep saying that "something feels off," but that's the best way to encapsulate the design of the game—almost every level just feels a bit off. Disorienting, difficult to navigate, with the open areas feeling too open and the enclosed areas feeling claustrophobic. One later level in particular is very large, but feels too large, and as a result seems somewhat empty. You're given access to a few vehicles, but the level is also dotted with deep pools of water that will swallow those vehicles whole.

Enemy AI seems incapable of coordinating over great distances, and often I'd see an enemy stand still in my sniper-sights, unable to do much of anything except perform an endless loop of ducking into cover, sticking his head out, then ducking back. One late-game side-mission tasked me with rescuing some guys in a tank. I came in expecting to fight off attackers and found them simply waiting for me. They drove off in their tank and invited me to take the gunner's seat. They then proceeded to drive out about fifty yards into the open, and sit there motionless while the enemy blew them apart.

Was Psycho every really anything more than a Cockney accent masquerading as a personality? I guess not.

Crysis 3's story and dialogue are as undercooked as the rest of the game. Enemy guards all seem to have gone to the Splinter Cell school of bad enemy dialogue, regularly yelling stuff like, "He's hunting us!" and "He's using arrows!" and "You think this is hide-and-seek? Show yourself!" At one point I shot a lone guard with an arrow, only to hear one of his compatriots in another room holler "He's using a bow!"

Someone at Crytek seems to have heard complaints about the past games' relative lack of personality, and the writers have attempted a last-minute emotion-injection. This attempt, while doubtless well-intentioned, was not successful. In contrast to the second game, the protagonist speaks and emotes, but it's never convincing. The script attempts to lay out a meaningful theme about sacrifice that never actually coalesces into anything or connects with the events of the story. The writers appear to be under the impression that the theme will become meaningful through repetition alone. I didn't care about any of the characters in past Crysis games, and this attempt to make me suddenly give a damn about their sacrifices feels like a band-aid on a corpse.

Psycho, the freedom-fighter who accompanies you for most of the story, is a dud of a character. Before I played, I was happy to hear that he'd be featured. Now that I've played it, I find myself asking: Was Psycho every really anything more than a Cockney accent masquerading as a personality? I guess not.

In this scene, Psycho gets so mad he gets telekinesis:

The overarching story, which concerns a reborn alien leader and a wormhole-invasion straight out of a made-for-TV adaptation of Mass Effect 3, is nonsense even by sci-fi video game standards. What drama there is takes place elsewhere; you just hear it over your radio. The dialogue is a dispiriting collection of clichés that includes such stinkers as "We're all human, Psycho! Nomad, Jester…. We all fought. Not the god damn nanosuits!"

At one point, a character cries out, "It was never just about the suit!" I always thought it was about the suit. I sort of liked that. It kept things simple. I think it should've stayed about the suit.

Here's a short list of further disappointments:

  • Collectable audio diaries that must be listened to in the pause menu, but not while playing. They never shed any light on where you are, who the speaker was, or what's going on.
  • A weird attempt at painting the Cell corporation as a cheerily evil corporate entity that feels inspired by Portal, of all things.
  • A poorly designed final boss-fight that ditches all of the game's strengths and pits you against a confusing enemy.
  • Waypoints and objectives that feel unclear, leaving you wandering around a large, empty environment for minutes on end looking for a path forward.
  • A hacking minigame that feels tacked-on and annoying.
  • A lackluster map that's hidden beneath one layer of the menu, and a mini-map that is mostly impenetrable.
  • Grenades that are as liable to bounce off a doorframe and land at your feet as they are to land near your target.
  • Incredibly vigilant enemies that are able to spot you uncloaked at two hundred yards, even if you're crouched in the shadows.

Multiplayer is a welcome bright spot. Broadly speaking, it's a sort of slick merger of the twitchy iron-sights of Call of Duty and the heavily armored mega-jumping of Halo. In my limited pre-release multiplayer sessions, I was surprised at just how much fun I was having. Multiplayer matches follow the typical templates for these sorts of games—there's deathmatch, team deathmatch, exfiltration and point-capture. What makes it really pop off is the fact that everyone has a nanosuit that can become invisible or armor-tough. It's impressive just how much goofy fun a multiplayer game can become when everyone has the ability to become invisible for brief periods of time.

Crysis 3's new multiplayer mode is called "Hunter Mode," and I had a good time with it as well. You either play as a cloaked nanosuit-wearing "hunter" or a lowly Cell guard. If you're a hunter, it's your job to kill all the guards. If you're a guard, it's your job to stay alive for a set amount of time. If you get killed, you spawn back on the map as a hunter, so the last surviving guard winds up having to outwit a whole lot of hunters. I was surprised to find that the most tense, enjoyable moments of my multiplayer session with Crysis 3 involved me, crouching in a corner, hoping no one found me before the clock ran out:

It was an odd thrill, more like playing hide-and-seek than any more familiar first-person shooter multiplayer mode. That video may seem like the least exciting multiplayer video ever—it's just a guy crouching by a wall! But it was actually more exciting in a way, because it felt so new. I'm not sure I'd play Hunter Mode for more than an afternoon or two, but it's a neat idea, and nice to see more games experimenting with asymmetrical competitive multiplayer.

There are other bright spots: You can still pop a different scope, attachment, or silencer onto your weapon on the fly. The power-jump still has that satisfying "sproinggg!" feeling. There are still moments of badassery, when you'll creep on a guy and take him down, then creep away just before his friend comes around the corner. Oddly, the aliens are now more fun to fight than the humans, but they can indeed be pretty fun to fight. And of course, when Crysis 3 is pretty, it really is quite pretty.

Multiplayer is a welcome bright spot.

But still, so much of Crysis 3 falls well short of the bar Crytek themselves set with Crysis and Crysis 2. The game's publisher EA has assured me that Crysis 3 will be receiving a day-one patch, but I can't imagine it will do too much to change the game from what I played. As I said, it's likely that over the weeks and months to come, Crytek will optimize the PC version to get consistent performance on a wider range of machines. But while those sorts of patches may address some of the more cosmetic bugs I ran into, it seems unlikely that they'll address the game's haphazard level design, poor AI, odd pacing, clumsy script and unbalanced combat.

Despite this laundry list of shortcomings, Crysis 3 still contains flashes of that delightful predatory thrill that makes Crysis games so fun. But they're too infrequent, hidden within a game where fancy tech disguises conservative, uninteresting design. The more I think about and play Crysis 3, the more frustrated I become. Crysis 2 managed to get an admirable number of things right. I would have loved to see the third game build upon that foundation and close the series out with style.

Instead, Crysis 3 is a finely tuned luxury automobile that's not, as it turns out, all that finely tuned. You sit, revving the engine, hoping that weird sound will go away, but it doesn't. It gets louder. You lower the driver's-side window; it gets stuck halfway. You pull down the sun-visor; it comes off in your hand.

Perplexed, you turn the visor over and examine the underside, wondering if it's supposed to come off. Maybe this is a feature? You look up, pause, sniff. Sniff again to confirm. Yep. Beneath the rich smell of the upholstery is the smell of something else. Something less pleasant.

And you stare at the wheel for a couple of moments, and you make peace with the fact that despite its lustrous exterior, this really just isn't a nice car after all.


You'd think with all the vintage rock and classic films and iconic imagery that Vietnam would be the easiest war to if not make a decent video game out of, then at least capture the essence of the conflict.

But nope. We've had the God-awful pastiche that was Black Ops' attempt. Battlefield tried, but Vietnam rivals 2142 for "most forgotten" game in that hallowed series. The less we say about games like Shellshock the better.

Yet here, out of nowhere, comes a Crysis mod, made by Germans, that looks fantastic. It appears to be only a single mission—and in German, which given the setting is weird—but whatever, that music, that foliage and that lighting looks perfect. If only they hadn't skimped on a few of the models, and actually made Jeeps instead of just re-skinning Humvees.

Having been in development for ages now, Vietcry is now available for download.

Vietcry [Moddb]


Nothing Like Getting Friendzoned By CrysisLove is complicated enough on its own, but the internet tends to make it even trickier. It can be hard to tell when someone is tweeting @ you out of kindness and friendship, or our of an interest in something more. It's true of people, and it's true of video games.

Writer/romantic/roustabout (and erstwhile Kotaku contributor) Cara Ellison found this out the hard way when she got into this humorous back-and-forth with the official Crysis Twitter account, eventually being 'friendzoned' by the game.

So sad. Those darned video games. They always say they want a nice girl but then they friendzone you and go out with a troublemaker. Typical.


Damn, Crysis 3. You lookin' gooood. No but seriously though: while the point of the game is to have the protagonist—Prophet—prevent the 'end of days,' when the end of the world looks as great as it does in this trailer, would you even want to, really? Can't we just... marvel at the scenery?


Well, fine. Have it your way. Shooting it is.


No dubstep, no angry men blowing up other angry men. Just a dude enjoying himself in the jungle, while shooting a crossbow bow and turning invisible and doing other Crysisy things.

The shooter Crysis 3 will be out on February 19 for Xbox 360, PS3, and PC. For more, check out Tina's impressions.


If We're Lucky, Crysis 3 Will Have The Heart of Halo 4 And The Innards Of Far Cry 3As much as first-person shooters evolve—what with new weapons, armor abilities, and creepy new alien enemies (if we're talking the sci-fi brand)—there's always a key component to any good game that most seem to miss the mark on.


We forget that the protagonist is perhaps more than the silent, big-bodied bulk of strength capable of taking on massive waves of armed men and fictional creatures. We forget that enemies have backgrounds, too. We forget that being in the midst of war—being the sole savior, being tied down to an image of a hero—can be frustrating for the lead character whose clunky boots you step into. Because heroes don't usually show their weaknesses. We never really get to see beyond their helmets to look at their expressive faces. Do they even have expressive faces? Who knows.

Crysis is a strikingly beautiful series from Crytek where you'll combine the powers of first-person perspective shooting and stealthy hunting of humans and aliens alike. It's somewhat open, somewhat linear, but full of tactical power granted to you by the mysterious technology of a nanosuit.

Crysis 3 peels back the layer of nanosuit to look at what the reconstruction of the human body has done to these soldiers. If you played the original game, you'll remember Psycho, who returns in this third title of the series. He's one of those that were skinned in a painful process that most don't even survive. It's a cruel, cold-hearted procedure whose purpose I'm still not clear on even four hours into the game.

Psycho represents everything that too many games forget: humanity. The man behind the kill score. The broken, confused, still viciously-talented-at-killing man behind the gun. The human behind the soldier.

Halo 4 did this to Master Chief recently, with such touching execution than we've ever seen from a Halo story.

After my demo event, I IM'd our own Kirk Hamilton (who will be reviewing Crysis 3 for us) about what I played and what I thought. I figured I'd share our chat here with you in the raw:

Kirk: how was crysis?

Tina: i liked it! i love that bow and arrow

If We're Lucky, Crysis 3 Will Have The Heart of Halo 4 And The Innards Of Far Cry 3

Tina: it reminds me a lot of halo 4

Tina: in terms of the direction that the series is taking

Kirk: interesting
you played the first game?

Tina: crysis? nah actually. i just read up on all of them
this is the first i've actually played
which might be why i like it

Kirk: well
I actually think it might be good
I like both games
crysis, at its best, was better than crysis 2
but it had a lot of low points too

Tina: well first off this one has the bow
which, c'mon

Kirk: crysis 2 was an underrated game, I thought

Tina: i should play it
they seem like my kinda games

Kirk: good action, insane-ass graphics on PC
fun stealth

Tina: dude even on 360 the new one looked GORGEOUS

If We're Lucky, Crysis 3 Will Have The Heart of Halo 4 And The Innards Of Far Cry 3

Kirk: but I don't understand why Crytek won't just let the games do more of what they're good at, which is:
hunting dudes in an open area
enough with the aliens, the boss battles, the corridor shooting
just hunting dudes
after far cry 3, it'll be even more apparent if they're still not getting that right often enough

Tina: yeah so
far cry 3 was another comparison i made

Kirk: how open was what you played?
and how many aliens were there?

Tina: cause you basically go into a camp, mark your dudes, and then go on the hunt
it gets linear at moments, like when you're in buildings
but otherwise its very similar to far cry 3 in that you have an open space
and can choose which route you wanna take, where you want to attack from and how

Kirk: interesting
but you were hunting actual humans?

Tina: here's the thing about "hunting"
i felt that i was, to an extent
cause mid-battle, reinforcements come
and i have to hide and retag everyone
which is obnoxious and it disrupts my gameplan
it sort of feels tensiony, but i would prefer to lay out a plan

Kirk: well, crysis has always been about improvisation
they tend to go more for quick improvisation and using all of the suit's abilities

Tina: yeah i figured it must be a franchise staple

Kirk: which can be annoying
it's not as satisfying as laying a plan out
but their AI is usually good, which keeps things fun

If We're Lucky, Crysis 3 Will Have The Heart of Halo 4 And The Innards Of Far Cry 3

Tina: yeah you'd probably never use the armor-strengthening ability if you didn't have to do that
i can never not alert the AI though
so it makes me feel like i won't get rewarded for a particularly stealthy kill

Kirk: I got very good at crysis 2 actually
(I played that game an almost weird amount)
the trick was getting a sniper rifle and using cloaking, lining up a shot, snapping cloaking off and taking the shot, then snapping it back on and relocating
very fun! in that sadistic stealth-game kind of way

Tina: but they find the body quickly
and then are all on alert

Kirk: yeah that's fine if you keep moving
also, most of what I've played lately in crysis 2 has been on my NG+ kinda thing, where I have all the powerups
so my stealth lasts a lot longer, etc

Tina: true but i want to eliminate an entire crew
and, while creeping up on the last guy, hear him go "wtf where did everyone go GAHHH"

Kirk: those are my favorite kinds of barks, when they freak out

Tina: well it would be if they did that!
cause they're always sort of expecting it
and are too aware of the surroundings
but yeah this is the ideal game for NG+
because you can customize your abilities and amp up the crossbow, for instance

Kirk: well, it'll be interesting I guess
I sense it'll be a lot like crysis 2 but with a bit more open levels
which is fine, if boring

Tina: i didn't even get to play around with upgrades
which feels like the best part
why boring?

Kirk: it's ok
well, just like
I dunno
another crysis game
those games are profoundly boring in every aspect except for their gameplay
boring writing
lame, perma-angry characters
no charm or wit
did your character talk?
were you playing as prophet?

Tina: yeah and yeah

Kirk: so he'll have more personality

Tina: oh! so that's the thing
where i liken it to Halo 4
they're "skinning" the dudes and putting them in suits
and one guy who has been skinned already is an emotional wreck
the dude from 1

Kirk: the cockney guy?
he's in it?
oh neat
he was actually decent. he was the star of the add-on, Warhead

If We're Lucky, Crysis 3 Will Have The Heart of Halo 4 And The Innards Of Far Cry 3

Tina: oohh werd yeah i like him

Kirk: that's good, sounds like they've stepped up the personality

Tina: he's in the first few levels at least

Kirk: now if they can just keep it light and have a little fun
it gets so heavy and dull

Tina: it sounds like it will be
cause the skinning process is very painful and most don't live through it

Kirk: well, I'm intrigued at the very least
the suit like merges with your body
it's gross
but opens the door to some interesting transhumanism stuff
that, you know, never really reaches an interesting or coherent conclusion

Tina: yeah for real
but this year/last year feel like a year where people are taking their narrative a deeper direction
some anyway
like for halo that kinda thing was never investigated
and crysis as far as i know similarly

Kirk: yeah, true

If We're Lucky, Crysis 3 Will Have The Heart of Halo 4 And The Innards Of Far Cry 3

Tina: i love when you take a character you're invested in, and finally open him up
like, you've played as this character for so many years, and have built so many memories with him
but did you ever really think about what it's like to actually be him?

Kirk: sure, though it's amazing that people are able to become interested in characters like Prophet and Master Chief
it's like
we're dying of thirst in the desert!
at least this masked robot person has a voice!

Tina: hahaha
for real
it doesn't take much to get us excited
but it's a start

Kirk: yeah and people become RELIGIOUSLY attached to master chief

Tina: yeah it's strange
it's definitely a source of strength
an admiration thing
but i love breaking people down to their core and seeing who they really are
that's sort of what halo 4 and crysis 3 are trying to do
even if it's through the vessel of another character
which might even be better, cause it's proof that it's hard for these characters to open up
but their strengths and weaknesses as human beings is of course still there
it's more like a bravado thing

Kirk: yeah, for sure
it's an interesting thing to do to archetypes as well
I just wish better, more adventurous writers handled it
like, making the guy sad about his lost father is fine
but look at what Watchmen did to the superhero
that kind of shit is like, ACTUALLY interesting

Tina: yeah total tear down

Kirk: it's always baby steps, it can feel frustrating
like, let's do Basic Character Development 101 on master chief
(I still haven't finished Halo 4! lol)

Tina: haha yeah i think they're worried about taking too far a step
and freaking everyone the fuck out

Kirk: which sucks
be bold!
if the game is good no one will care
no one cares when the story sucks, after all

Tina: it does
it doesn't pay to be though

Kirk: make it a sick-ass shooter and go insane with the story
people will still buy it
look at what FC3 at least attempted
I mean there were attempts at boldness in there
and when it came down to it no one gave a fuck about successes or failures because it was a good game

Tina: man what a good game

I might be being optimistic, or hopeful, but I think there's great potential in Crysis 3 to turn the series from a solid first-person shooter into a solid first-person shooter with more heart than we're used to in these kind of games. If things go well, we'll get a Crysis 3 that develops on the personal relationships and struggles of the actual people in the game, on top of a fun, tactical, sometimes stealthy and sometimes guns-blazing hunt of human and alien enemies alike.

Some last notes for you, from my scribbles during the event:

  • Everything feels very real. The thick grass, the smudges on your visor, even your hyper-awesome suit feels real. If we're gonna pretend to be all powerful, you might as well be able to really feel that when you play.
  • Struggle between wanting that machine, that power, and being human. Forget how much you've sacrificed because of the dependency you've developed on the nanosuit.
  • Claire, a scientist/researcher who I shouldn't say much more about in fear of spoilers, is a bitch. She called me a mutation.
  • There's a vicious, electric-charged shotgun type of weapon that is super effective at blowing aliens away.

The Deadliest Predator: The Joy Of Being A Hunter In Crysis 3 I'm perched atop a crashed airplane, weapon at the ready. My eyes dart across the map, searching for a target. No, no. Not just a target. My prey.

They are not my equals, you see. They are CELL operatives with nothing more than laughable guns. Me, I'm a hunter. A predator. I use a bow. It's a sophisticated weapon, difficult to wield. It requires absolute precision and the patience necessary to line up a shot.

Admittedly, my shots miss more than they should—but, no matter. Seeing the operatives freak out and shoot at shadows out of fear—seeing them scramble frantically, thinking that they can hide safely behind corners: this is just as rewarding as destroying them. And even if I miss, even if I fail this time, I know I'm coming back.

The operatives, meanwhile? One arrow: that's all it takes and they go down. Then they become one of us, then the hunt grows stronger. At that point even the converted compete fiercely for the last remaining operatives. None shall be spared.


If it wasn't obvious, I've been playing Crysis 3 lately, which features its own twist on 'zombies' mode—only here, it's called Hunter Mode.

It feels different from other similar takes on the concept. In order to understand why, we have to look at the hunter's suit. The rest of Crysis spends a lot of time fetishizing the suit and what it allows you to do.

You can, for instance:

  • Punch cars at people
  • Become invisible
  • Activate extra armor
  • Launch yourself into the air
  • ...which also means that you can climb up high
  • Navigate the map at top speeds
  • To name a few things. It's intoxicating, how powerful that feels—but all of that is gone when you're a CELL operative. Let me tell you, it the tension is crazy playing the mode as an operative. You feel weak. You feel paranoid.

    Contrast with, say, Halo when playing on the Flood gametype—you're an effin' Spartan! I'd go up against the Flood like it was nothing, almost treating it like a challenge to go out and seek the Flood out. I basically thought, "I'm gonna show them why they should be afraid of ME, damnit."

    I'm an utter coward in Crysis 3 though, spending as much time as possible hiding. And if you watched a replay, you'd probably laugh at all the people crowding up in the corners, shooting at absolutely nothing because they're scared. It's amazing.

    The thing is, if you survive, it feels super gratifying.

    I'm looking forward to unlocking my bow for the normal multiplayer modes after spending so much time in hunter mode. The compound bow feels natural to the franchise. I think this has to do with the suit, which, though technically the farthest thing from natural, you feel an innate power—as if you're relying on the potential of your own body to play.

    With the bow, you're harking back to something more primal, the time of hunter-gatherer. It fits. Guns feel antithetical to all of that; there's something detached about pulling the digital trigger.

    So, as much as I suck at the bow now, I'm gonna spend the beta trying to hone my skills there—that way, I'll be ready when Crysis 3 drops later this month.

    You can try the Crysis 3 beta here.


The Incredible Art Of Maciej Kuciara, Who's Worked On The Last Of Us, Cyberpunk & CrysisMaciej Kuciara is one of the most talented concept artist on the planet. And you're about to see just why.

He's worked for a number of high-profile companies and clients over the years, including stints at Crytek (Crysis series), CD Projekt (Cyberpunk), Blur (Halo 4's launch trailer) and Naughty Dog (The Last of Us, for which he's been featured here previously).

These days, he's been doing a lot of movie work, for projects like the Wachowski's Jupiter Ascending and Marvel's upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy.

You can see more of Maciej's art at his personal site and CGHub page.

To see the larger pics in all their glory (or, if they're big enough, so you can save them as wallpaper), right-click on them below and select "open in new tab".
Fine Art is a celebration of the work of video game artists, showcasing the best of both their professional and personal portfolios. If you're in the business and have some concept, environment, promotional or character art you'd like to share, drop us a line!

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